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This article is taken from the April 2003 Phatlalatsa newsletter

 

Assessing recruitment procedures for the Zivuseni anti-poverty programme

Assessing recruitment procedures for the Zivuseni anti-poverty programme imageIn the last edition of Phatlalatsa, Moagi Ntsime described S&T's role in the Zivuseni Gauteng poverty alleviation programme. Here he describes two diagnostic evaluation studies focusing on recruitment procedures and the extent to which the programme reaches its intended beneficiary group.

What is a diagnostic evaluation study?

Diagnostic evaluation studies are normally fast turn-around and very focused exercises with the aim to understanding in detail the challenges facing the implementation process. However, it is important to bear in mind that such rapid exercises may not be representative of the entire programme; but they do ensure that managers have information on which to base decisions and design interventions.

The main objective in carrying such exercises is to assist the implementation team in carrying out their management mandate and (where appropriate) steer the project in the desired direction. This is a monitoring function, intended to equip managers to deal with issues as they emerge and quickly institute corrective actions instead of allowing problems to worsen.

Soweto sites

For the diagnostic studies reported here, we agreed in consultation with the programme team to use two projects in Soweto that were part of the first phase of the programme. The two projects were the Chris Hani Baragwanath Nursing College and Isolihle Primary School. We wanted to assess whether or not the programme implemented its recruitment guidelines successfully, and what challenges it faced.

Pose questions to those directly affected

There are always lessons to be learned from the literature and documented experiences from elsewhere, as well as the policy and programme documentation; but it is always most valuable to pose questions to those directly impacted on. The value is that they bring different perspectives to the fore which can improve the programme strategies.

What we found

After conducting the interviews and analysing the data we noted that projects were following similar processes in recruiting their workforce. Beneficiaries are selected when a Cluster Manager forwarded his/her request to the programme office for workers, specifying the labour requirements – how many workers, for what types of work and over what duration

The programme office has a database of people who registered during the Zivuseni registration process, from which they select people. However, the database was designed such that it did not allow manipulation to ensure that all those registered have an equal chance of being selected. The programme officer responsible for administering the database confirmed that it was difficult to ascertain whether a person had been selected previously or not, and to do so manual recording had to be used. We are pleased to report that as a result of this exercise and suggestions from the Programme Steering Committee, the system has since been reformatted.

Beneficiary perspective

Zivuseni targets the unemployed and poorest members of the community from sites identified as priorities for anti-poverty interventions. This brings its own challenges.

Firstly, we found that many of those involved in the programme had been unemployed for a number of years. Many had children to look after. According to most of them, the programme was a huge relief to them, helping eradicate some of their miseries. They were now able to buy food for their children from the allowances they received for their engagement in the programme. As one of them told us, ‘since my involvement in Zivuseni now my children can go to school with something in their stomachs’.

While beneficiaries were appreciative of the changes Zivuseni brought to their lives, the fact that it is a short-term employment creation programme was of great concern. The programme aims to reach poor and unemployed people, and the projects are short-term, often lasting not more than three months. After this, rotation occurs and other members of the beneficiary community are given an opportunity to work for three months.

Targeted areas: Source of labour

The programme design is that members of the workforce should come from the communities where projects are being implemented. This requires tight selection procedures and very clear explanations of the objectives of the programme to all concerned – notably those who are poor but whose local areas are not targeted for projects.

Members of the project team and workforce told us that a high proportion of those who worked on projects were local residents. During the preparatory stages of the programme, those who registered were urged to do so in their respective localities to avoid disqualification. Members of the local Community Steering Committees worked closely with the project team to ensure this was adhered to. No-one can guarantee a watertight process, but it is commendable that the programme is committed to ensuring an equitable distribution of short-term employment opportunities.

Women's work?

The target beneficiaries for Zivuseni are women, youth, men and the disabled. Each of these has to form a certain proportion of the workforce with special emphasis on women who head single households. Achieving employment targets is a contractual delivery of those responsible for implementing the programme. The problem we have encountered elsewhere is that targets for women are achieved by employing them at the very end of a project to clean and tidy it ready for hand-over; or during the project to make tea and 'help the men'.

It was encouraging to note that while the programme was struggling in certain instances to reach its targets, women were performing same tasks as their male counterparts. For example, in Isolihle Primary School in Zola 3, women were involved in carrying out activities such as painting classrooms, toilets and the roof; installing tiles; and renovating damaged ceilings. This is extremely positive; and we hope our findings are more broadly representative of Zivuseni.

Identity

There are other national and provincial government programmes which could be confused with Zivuseni. This is obviously problematic, given the specificities of each programme and the need to avoid sending out contradictory messages. For example, Zivuseni is running parallel to Letsema; in Letsema, community members are expected to work as volunteers and do not receive an allowance. Robust communication strategies are commonly the last part of a development programme (or second last, one above M&E); this despite the self-evident need for communication.

'Low class work'

One of the most unfortunate trends that emerged from our diagnostic evaluation studies in Soweto was that some beneficiaries do not want to do ‘low class’ work. An example given was that just before the World Summit on Sustainable Development, people were selected to join a litter clean-up campaign. When they were informed that the project involved picking up garbage, most declined.

Zivuseni is a short-term employment creation and poverty alleviation programme. Therefore, it has ambitious overall objectives, it has a small window of time within which to spread its net as widely as possible. It cannot address all the poverty problems of the province and its municipalities. It faces some real challenges: but is also making real advances.

 

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